“Grief is the price we pay for love, and when you feel the weight of the grief we are all feeling right now, you recognize just how much love lived in the one you are grieving.” These words were shared by Proctor’s counselor, Kara Kidder, during an informal gathering for faculty and staff Tuesday morning in the wake of longtime forestry faculty member Dave Pilla’s sudden passing. Just as Proctor’s Maintenance Department approaches the tireless clean up of downed trees from Tuesday night’s microburst that ripped through campus, the path to healing for our community will take time.
It is with the greatest sadness that we share news with the Proctor community that longtime faculty member Dave Pilla passed away Sunday afternoon. His sudden passing leaves our community with an immeasurable void, and only the smallest solace can be found in knowing that the lives he touched and the passions he kindled move outward in the world.
We have crossed the midpoint of summer break, and begin to shift our attention to the school year ahead. With a new year comes the opportunity to educate new parents (and returning) on how to help their child get the most out of their Proctor journey. We published a blog post on this same topic last summer (Being a Proctor Parent: Empowering Independence) but wanted to take another look at how parents can best support their son or daughter’s boarding school experience.
The soul of a school is less tied to a physical place than it is to those with whom you share experiences in that space. An aerial shot of Proctor’s campus from the 1960s represents a skeleton of the physical plant supporting Proctor’s 370 students today. But the soul of Proctor? The soul of a school does not live in buildings, it lives in those connections made in dormitories, on athletic teams, with advisors, teachers, coaches, dorm parents. Ask any alum who attended Reunion 2018 this weekend, whether from the Class of 1953 or the Class of 2013, and they will tell you unequivocally the soul of Proctor and its faculty and staff (past and present) is alive and well.
Stewarding a community like Proctor is never the task of an individual, but rather the responsibility of every person whose life has intersected the school. Whether you consider yourself an alum, a student, a parent, a faculty or staff member, a grandparent, or a parent of an alum, your stewardship of the Proctor community matters. Today’s celebration of the Class of 2018 at Proctor’s 170th Commencement was a reminder of how the collective work of everyone in the Proctor community, past and present, has shaped Proctor into the perfectly imperfect place it is today.
There is always this week. Garry George shows up outside of Maxwell Savage with a pallet of bricks, a saw to cut through asphalt, a shovel and some fine grit fill. On each brick is the name of a member of the class of 2018. The ground is prepared, the bricks are set, the tamping is done, and by the end of the day the new section of walk is complete. Seniors start to drift by and pause to look for their name and the names of friends. It’s one of the rituals in the final week.
This weekend, the 26 cast members and 15 crew of the Proctor theater department will take the stage to perform In the Heights. With music and lyrics written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the author and composer of famed Hamilton, the mix of hip-hop, salsa, and classic musical numbers make this show a good one “even if you’re not into musical theater” says lead Sam Wyckoff ‘19, “because it is so special - the message, the music, the dance - all of it”.
To find traction and a sense of laying down tracks, making a mark, having a voice, you need these spaces. It’s not just Slocumb. It’s the Norris theater, the machine shop, the forge, the metal shop, the music studio, the woodworking shop. In Segovia and Aix we have them, and collectively they are some of the most important creative soul corners in our community. In the jargon of the day they might be called makerspaces or tinker spaces, but I like to think of them as soul corners, these eddies within community where one finds a path of one’s own while connecting with something much bigger than oneself. They are both humbling and inspiring.